A Vet Returns to Civilian Life: Richardson Industries Slamfire Guerrilla Shotguns

Iliff Richardson was a US Navy Lieutenant assigned to PT 34 during the campaign in the Philippines. His boat was sunk in April 1942, and he ended up spending more than two years fighting with Philippine guerrillas against the Japanese occupation. He was decorated with the Silver Star and also given the rank of Major in the Philippine Army alongside his US Navy position. One of the things Richardson’s men did was assemble simple slam fire shotguns to ambush Japanese patrols as a source for better arms. When Richardson returned home to the US after the end of the war, he was something of a famous war hero – a book was written about his time in the Philippines, and a big Hollywood movie was also made about him.

In 1946, Richardson Industries was formed to produce and sell a civilian version of the shotgun that Richardson had famously used with his guerrillas. Two versions were mass produced, one with a vertical front grip and a “trigger” that actually functioned as a safety, and a simplified versions with just 6 parts that did away with the safety. The guns were marketed as utilitarian, economy, general-purpose guns suited for hunting or recreational skeet shooting. They were not well received, and the company dissolved in 1947. Whether the more complex design was the first or second is not clear, but I suspect the complex one came first, to be replaced by the simpler one both to reduce production cost and because the complex version is surprisingly counter-intuitive to use.

Having taken both guns out to the range, I have to say that I was very surprised by just how goofily fun the simple type is to shoot. Thanks to Mike Carrick from Arms Heritage magazine for the opportunity to film and shoot these!


  1. In a time of single shot break action shotguns for but a few dollars used, one does wonder how such an idea ever got to production.

    P.S. I purchased a single shot shotgun for $25 just a year ago.

  2. “the crudest, simplest commercially produced and commercially sold firearm”
    Have you seen the Altor 9mm pistol, Ian? It’s a worthy competitor in that regard, with only six parts, and is fired by pulling the striker itself back until it snaps out from under your finger.
    I think the Richardson Industries shotguns still come out ahead, though, as the Altor features such fanciness as locking lugs on the bolt and corresponding recesses machined in the barrel.

  3. The “trigger” isn’t a safety, it’s to keep the barrel from falling out when it’s carried. Look at the groove in the barrel. You can push the barrel in, but not pull it out without pulling the trigger.

    • And to get the shell out if stuck in the “receiver”, point it down and pull the “trigger”. The tip of the trigger is what is holding the shell. You do not have to pull the trigger to fire it.

      • Exactly what I was thinking. Not a “trigger” or a “safety”, but a barrel retention device, and…the ONLY thing holding the empty hull in, is the pin that the “trigger” will lower out of your way if you just pull it.

      • In all fairness to Ian, did he try pulling the trigger to release the shell? He didn’t while on camera.
        Keeping track of 2 pieces that are not held together seems counterintuitive.
        In modern times you could wrap the barrel with high temperature silicone to mitigate heat.
        Fun review Ian, thanks.

  4. This kind of very basic guns worth in an area without machining devices… With presence of manufacturing, it could be designed and made much practical, safer and efective samples… IMHO…

    • My thoughts exactly. There is certainly plenty to critique in the Richardson: the disruptiveness of slamming the barrel, lack of insulation for the forward hand, and especially the risk of firing if dropped / bumped muzzle-first.

      On the other hand, the barrel appears to exert very little force forward against / through Ian’s off hand – which makes sense, given that nothing’s trying to force it open except a little friction from shot against the unrifled bore.

      Single-shot shotguns aren’t exactly expensive, but (relative to many other modern firearms) the breech mechanism involves a fair amount of casting / forging and machining – apparently to very little purpose. It makes me wonder if anyone’s ever developed a conventional (hammer or striker) single with a simple tube receiver.

  5. It seems that Richardson was a Major in the US Army, not the Philippines Army:

    “For his work, Richardson was made a US Army Intelligence major by General Douglas MacArthur, holding commissions in the army and navy simultaneously. He is the only person to receive consecutive medals in both the Army and the Navy”

    “When attempting to get his back pay, Richardson was told by a naval pay clerk that he was dead. After receiving his pay, Richardson was incorrectly thought to be drawing pay from both the Army and Navy. Richardson was given notices of four courts-martial in as many days. After telling Admiral Ernest King and others of his experiences, all charges were dropped and King personally apologized to him.”

    • And, as Wikipedia relates, Richardson’s boat didn’t actually sink at Subic Bay, but was shot up, set fire, and abandoned on Cebu. Richardson bounced around other Philippine islands like Mindanao, before participating in most of his guerilla activity on Leyte and Samar until US troops returned in 1944.

  6. Tubular receiver single shot shotgun
    MANUARM here in France produced a single shot shotgun with a tubular receiver To load it you gave the forestock on the barrel barrel a half turn towards the top this disengaged the locking lug which was part of the rear of the barrel. You then pulled the barrel forward ejecting the empty shell. The firing pin/bolt was at the end of the tube and was like a mini open bolt smg except of course their was a solid fixed bolt face which the firing pin penetrated

  7. I think the more complex sample was the second.
    If you add an elastic band from underpants to it, you get something quite similar to a weapon.

  8. This leads me o recollect books published by Paladin press with recipes to the ultimately simple weapons. This exceeds them by a fair bit. You cannot make it any simpler – providing it actually works.

  9. I see a scan of a 1950 advertisement (in an A. F. Stoeger catalog) for an H&R “Topper” break-open 12 gauge shotgun, with a proper trigger, presumably a half-cock safety, automatic ejector and a proper stock, full-choke barrel, for $20.85. An Iver Johnson “Champion” 12 gauge break-open single on the same page costs $21.75.

  10. I’m surprised at how undramatic the needed ‘slam’ actually was. I was expecting some Chauchat-like train-crash.

    And we got a mag-dump at the end. Well…a pocket-dump.

    • Pocket Dump. I like it! Just be careful how loudly you say that. There would be trouble if they try to outlaw my high capacity cargo pants, and limit us all to girls jeans pockets.

  11. The Philippines have a tradition of making guns like these, probably going back to earliest Spanish days. Probably some are in use today, and why not? Ducks, pigeons, monkeys — all good protein for a poor farmer out in the sticks.

    • I’m biased – a Lyndon. Not period correct, however.

      The NRA museum had one of these shotguns in their collection some time back.

      • Ah, now having watched the video, I can state that the NRA’s model in their collection is substantially simpler than either model Ian shot.

        IIRC, it has a straight line stock, with a blind hole the size of the bbl drilled directly in the wood. It is a substantial stock, much like the simpler model Ian tested. At the bottom of the blind hole is a nail tip, presumably nailed in from the butt.

        The bbl is of single or two piece construction (one pipe inside each other for a short distance), with a rough grind for the shell rim. It is fired as Ian so ably demonstrated.

        Unfortunately, at this time the NRA museum is closed by order of the Governor of Virginia, but I suspect if Ian rang Phil he could send some pics if it’s still in the collection.

  12. “was very surprised by just how goofily fun the simple type is to shoot”
    So in essence this gun is what the cobray terminator was supposed to be but miserably failed at

  13. Early movie tie in. Should have gone for the action figure instead. People weren’t likely to pay almost as much as a real gun for something so impractical unless it had some symbolic meaning to them. My dad might have been interested, he flew out of the Philippines and had an interest in Philippine knives and culture.

  14. Truly a hoot! I’d really like to know what the actual Philippine guns looked like. It would be really great if photos of some WW II era guns surfaced as a result of this video.

    I question whether this was a “cheap shotgun” or a cheap WW II relic reproduction. The buttstock marking suggests the latter.

    Even today, for a small village in Africa, such arms and good tactics would prevent a marauding band armed with AKs from raping the women. And net a bunch of AKs for the village in the process. Such arms are sadly still relevant 75 years later.

    In any case, my thanks to the owner for making this available for Ian to document. And thanks to Ian for taking the time to document it in a video. I was quite surprised it functioned as well as it did.

    It’s easy in the developed world to sneer at such arms, but in certain contexts such things are important.

  15. 1- How did the guerillas get ammunition prior to subs and planes making supply runs…The air dropped packages used copies of “Free Philippines” and match books with MacArthur promising to return as dunnage to prevent damage to the real cargo
    such as weapons or radios



    2. One thing that jumps out at you, the ability to be taken down for concealment and reassembled ready to fire in seconds would be valuable to a guerrilla

    3. If you can’t get the shell case out, you drop the gun and draw your bolo, the Filipino national weapon. The US Army issued them to troops stationed in the islands, but every rural Filipino owns one, maybe made by the village blacksmith, but no less effective for that. I bought a US surplus M1917 and brought it with me on active duty. Impressed the hell out of the troops – “Have you seen the crazy knife the Eltee is wearing on his LBE….”


    Any time I got complaints about “that’s not authorized”, I just showed them the initials “US” on the blade. “Really, tell that to Department of the Army”

    There was even a bayonet version. Ian did an episode on it


    5. Sadly, Richardson was ahead of his time. Preppers and survivalists would have made him a millionaire. Could be a marketing opportunity for someone. You might…might…be able to make one in your home workshop. I am NOT encouraging it, and if you try, have it checked out by someone who knows what he is doing before you fire it so it doesn’t take yer damn fool head off and hire a lawyer to get the Feds in line (I think you can build a firearm for personal use but you can’t sell or give one away. Don’t take that as professional legal advice, talk to a bona fide lawyer)

    6. My ex-Marine neighbor says it needs a bayonet lug.

    • 2. – 3. Insurgency with these kind of weapons, including knives, stipulates that for every japanese killed you would lose 10-20 insurgents. Unless “japs” went holocaust on them, filipinos have no incentive to put up that kind of fight.

      5. Doubt any sane prepper would bought that unsafe junk, when they can buy proper shotguns and rifles.

  16. According to an article in Guns Magazine in 1978 by Major Fidel V. Ramos of the Philippine Constabulary, this pattern of weapon was known as the “Paliuntod” due to looking like an agricultural implement of that name common in the islands. It was also known as the “Kibrang” due to its odd report.

    The weapon predated Richardson’s arrival. His innovation was actually putting something resembling a stock on it. This was actually unnecessary, as the standard procedure was to fire it from the hip.

    The Philippines have a long history of improvised firearms, dating back to the Spanish conquest and the introduction of black powder. The first such were literal “hand cannon” made from wagon wheel spokes, which in Spanish practice were cast bronze tubes. One stolen wheel made up to two dozen “handgonnes”. This pattern persisted well into the 20th century, made from steel water pipe rather than bronze. Due to the usual ignition source, it was by then known as the “Cigarette Gun”.

    Only slightly later, a characteristic Filipino pattern of cast bronze gun appeared, known as the Lela or Lantaka. The Lela was the “handgonne” version, the Lantaka was a “swivel gun” generally mounted on the rail of boats to ward off pirates- and by the pirates to attack other shipping.

    Lela were generally from 18″ to 24″ in length and had bores of roughly .65 to .80 caliber to use standard Spanish musket balls. Lantaka could be up to four or five feet long and have bores of up to three inches, putting them more in the field artillery category. (Roughly the size and weight of a cast-bronze three-inch James gun, as used by the Confederate States Army in the American Civil War.)

    Exactly what the actual division between the two types was is uncertain, as some Lela were as much as three feet long with a 1.5″ bore, and some Lantaka were that size as well.

    There were also very small Lela, the length of a man’s hand with bores as small as 1/4″. These were not actually weapons. They were trade goods, in effect a form of coinage. While most were cast bronze like their larger kinfolk, some were gold or silver to make them higher “denominations”.



  17. Probably better for gaining a hit than a liberator, albeit its bigger; the shotgun idea. Even aside from jungles. You’d have to a wear a wig and lipstick, and be getting pumped by ze Germans to hit one with one of those.

    I mean, like if it was 1942 I suppose… Blush, oooh your such tease Hans eyelash flutter… Liberator, idea, perhaps.

    • Theres that film… Forgot… Oh, Munich. I think; James Bond “modern” fella… Craig, someone (Wasn’t as good as Roger Moore) Mind you I quite liked Piers, Daniels is it. Anyway he shot a bird in the film “fairly unpleasant scene” with a .22 rimfire similar idea, but backwards I.e. You smacked the rear of the outer tube- Fixed rimfire firing pin, onto the cartridge in the barrel; the inner tube.

      I still think there is potential for that 12g… Street-sweeper… Er, spring loaded slam fire shotgun “Might have been called murderer, or some other similar; controversial, name. Forgot.” Anyway that, but smoothbore .50 yes .50Bmg with saboted flechettes… Api lark, you put that guns (workings) into a pellet gun; pellet gun fires said gun “quite” that gun fires prior mid motion I.e. of that gun being being fired; recoil must act then against pellet guns forward moving spring.

      Why? Large Ducks; call it something nice like the fluffgenerator.

        • $99.99 probably would have worked in the 60’s “unexplained fires are a matter for the courts” Can you name the truck with four wheel drive,
          smells like a steak and seats thirty-five..
          Canyonero! Canyonero!
          Well, it goes real slow with the hammer down,…

          • If the pressure opened the “cobray” part; which is less likely in a smoothbore probaby… Well it moved back; its barrel, thus if it was in a tube “all of it” well the barrel; of the cobray would need to move forward, simply prevent this via the tube (crossbar or such, in a position at say half of the pellet guns movement forward; thus the cobray chamber can never open properly… If that doesn’t work, fiddle along those lines)

          • Reload… Meh, slower. Something like this trigger thing “newer model” forward of the trigger, to release the cobray part, cock load that, side lever (pellet gun) action, re-insert, said cobray. Pull actual trigger. Slower than a barrett for sure. Meh, 99 bucks. Probably 299 he he.

  18. I would assume that the Richardson barrels are seamless tubing. Wonder if they are actual 12ga bore, with a reamed chamber, or just a chamber sized tube?
    Mention was made that the breech plugs thread into the receiver tube. Are they threaded in, or are they just retained by the large bolt that passes through them?

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